SPOTLIGHT: Trash & Treasure by Mikala Ash #futuristic #scifi #LGBTQ #multiplepartners #RomanceBooks @changelingpress

Spotlight: Trash & Treasure (Spaceport Multi-Author 3)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

 

Award-winning reporter for the Adana Observer Holly Barberossa finds herself once again in her natural environment: hot water.

Antagonizing the Dollavera “brothers,” a family of clones who run the Amalgamated Spaceport Guild of Scavengers, with a series of damaging exposés was bound to drop her into a cauldron of trouble but when a dismembered body, an abused robot and a scared alien entity are thrown into the mix then Holly is really in the soup.

Then there’s Maxim Dollavera who, she hopes, is not like his “brothers.” A man with his smoldering good looks just can’t be a bad guy, can he? Trying for a surprise interview Holly walks in on him and his male lover, Felis Panthera, a randy Leonine with equally attractive attributes. Forget the story, she hopes there’s room for one more in Maxim’s erotic world.

But she can’t forget a story, that’s her problem, and her greatest strength. Will Maxim’s brothers allow Holly to walk all over them in the media without retribution? Will Maxim welcome her into his world when she is trying to destroy his brothers? And just who are the bad guys, really?

These and other questions boil over in Spaceport: Trash & Treasure, a Holly Barberossa erotic adventure.

 

99 cents TODAY at Changeling Press

 

Praise for Trash & Treasure

“I loved the futuristic and paranormal backdrop to this tale, which added to the fascination of the plot. I look forward to reading the other stories from a variety of different authors of the Spaceport series.”

4 Stars! — Tallyn Porter, JERR

“The addition of a good mystery and intrigue to the plot make Spaceport: Trash & Treasure a fine addition to the Spaceport series.”

4 Angels! — Hayley, Fallen Angels Reviews

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2008, 2019 Mikala Ash

I need a beer.

With an emphatic click, Holly Barberossa snapped off her smartcam while K. Dollavera was still flapping his jaws, the bombastic Guild executive ever eager to have the last word. Asshole!

It had been a helluva day. She’d lost her cool and she knew it. Vinnie would gripe about it in the morning, give her the old lecture about getting more with sugar than… hell, she couldn’t remember how that homily ended even though she’d heard it a thousand times.

I need a beer.

The Haze was only ten minutes away. She could almost taste the amber fluid, not to mention the plate of ribs she’d have to go along with it. The image of her favorite meal, dripping with that mouth watering Altaran sauce the cook at the Haze used, filled her mind and worked its magic on her salivary glands. Her empty stomach gave a sustained and hopeful cheer.

She hadn’t stopped for lunch, running from one end of Adana to the other; interviewing idiots and assholes, fending off the groping hands of hopeful pedestrians trying to cop a feel, being kidnapped and fucking led around blindfolded by amateurs on the run (as if they really thought I couldn’t figure out where they took me, geeze! ), gassed by a flatulent Fedoran, given the cold shoulder by the fucking head of ‘Port Security (I’ll put her on a fucking spit and roast her slow), and to top it off that fucking asshole Dollavera trying to wheedle out of not spilling the beans about the gang war brewing right under his and his goddamn brothers’ fucking noses (brothers, there’s a misnomer for you, fucking brothers my ass, fucking clones).

Clones. She took a deep and sustained breath. Good looking clones, sexy clones who boiled her juices every time she was within ten meters of their athletic bulk. Bastards.

She ordered her thoughts and skipped through the interview with Riz Gitto, the retired head of ‘Port Security and CEO of Adana’s newest private security firm. She could tell he wanted her badly, his pale gray eyes undressing her six times during the five minutes she talked to him. He wasn’t bad looking for an old guy and would be a useful contact, so she’d fluttered her dark lashes back at him and deflected his request for a date with the usual stop kidding around, I’m working line and jumped into the interview with that asshole K. Dollavera. At least Riz hadn’t made a grab for her tits.

Exactly why she let Dollavera get under her skin she couldn’t fathom. It wasn’t just that he was a slimy asshole. No doubt it had something to do with the fact that she’d dated (a couple of times) his “brother” Zweep, the Sentient Resources Controller of the family monopoly, the Amalgamated Spaceport Guild of Scavengers. She’d dumped Zweep at the first inkling of his suspicious business dealings. No way could she compromise her journalistic standards by seeing the man at the center of what could be the biggest scandal in Adana history. The fact that she let him go not ten minutes after she met their “brother” Maxim might, she conceded, have had something more to do with it other than being a breathtaking coincidence.

Maxim, the New Year’s Eve hero who had risked his life to save others from a terrible disaster, was something special. There was a guy who knew how to boil the juices, and what made him yummier was that he didn’t even know he did it.

The thought of Maxim being caught up in a shady family business was giving her sleepless nights. He’d been away, supposedly scavenging, for the last month, more likely avoiding the hundreds of fans attracted to his celebrity, so she hadn’t been able to talk to him about it. Not that they were on speaking terms yet; he probably didn’t know she even existed.

I’ll have to change that little detail.

If nothing else, her publicly nailing his two brothers would bring her into his orbit soon enough. What worried her was that Maxim seemed smarter than his “brothers,” and even in the brief moments she saw them interact, they seemed to defer to him. Her worst fear was that he was actually in charge of the operation while posing as a loner, supposedly scavenging the asteroid belt for junk. It would be the perfect cover, playing the dirt smeared grunt collecting trash while secretly pulling the strings behind the ‘Port Authority.

There was a tug at her trouser leg. A grubby face with enormous eyes and a mess of yellow hair looked up and gave her a gap toothed smile.

“Hello, sweetie,” Holly said. “Got something for me?”

The little angel, one of Adana’s many corridor kids, nodded and cupped a tiny hand near her mouth. Holly knelt down beside her and turned her head, brushing aside her raven hair so the little girl could whisper in her ear.

Holly’s heart jumped at the message. “Thank you, sweetie,” she said. “How much?”

The girl put up three fingers, indicating there were two others involved in the chain of observers that had brought her this longed-for news. Holly dropped four credits into her small palm and was rewarded with openmouthed astonishment. She always paid more than the going rate. It guaranteed preferment in the Adana rumor mill.

So, Maxim Dollavera had returned. He was in customs at this very moment and if she hurried she’d catch him.

And then what? She bit her bottom lip and snapped shut her oversized equipment bag. I have no idea, but I’ll think of something. I always do.

 

More from Mikala at Changeling Press …

Aussie Mikala Ash lives a hectic double life, mild-mannered training & development consultant by day… wild sci-fi and paranormal adventure writer by night. “For me, burning the candle at both ends is not such a terrible problem; I’m having too much fun!”

Catch up with Mikala on Facebook: www.facebook.com/mikala.ash#!/mikala.ash.9.

 

 

 

Their Perfect Sub by Megan Slayer #BDSM #NewRelease #DarkDesire #MultiplePartners #RomanceBooks @MeganSlayer @changelingpress

Their Perfect Sub (The Jordan Brothers 2)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genres/Themes: BDSM, Contemporary, 2nd Chance Romance,
Bisexual and More, Multiple Partners, Dark Desire

 

Clint Jordan has been the oddball in his family. He’s the oldest, but has no desire to run the family business. He’s in love with Ronan, despite his mother’s determination to find him a wife. Plus, he wants to share a sub with Ronan. Is there someone out there who can fit their needs and bring them together?

Zari’s running from a past that won’t go away. She needs stability and two men who will cherish her… while giving her a good paddling. When she meets Ronan and Clint, she’s convinced they’re meant to own her. Will these two committed men have space in their life for her?

Ronan got more than he bargained for when he became Clint’s lover. He’s not only with Clint, but he’s under the rule of the Jordan family. Once Zari enters the equation, he’s forced to admit his true feelings for Clint and accept what he needs from Zari. But things aren’t always the way they seem. Zari comes with baggage, and Clint’s determined to make the triad work. Will Ronan accept their terms or walk away?

 

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EXCERPT:

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Megan Slayer

“I hate waiting.” Clint Jordan sat on the edge of the sofa and debated how he wanted to present himself. He hated arguments with Ronan more than he detested waiting. A piece of his heart had ripped out when Ronan left. He wished they hadn’t shouted at each other. Ronan was his other half. Going to the office sucked without Ronan across the hallway. Moreover, he missed his sub.

Clint couldn’t sit still. He forced himself not to check the clock for the hundredth time. He didn’t regret taking part in the collaring ceremony with his brother Dashiell and Dash’s wife, Christy. The ceremony had been beautiful and sexy, and she’d only blown him while Dash fucked her.

But Clint hadn’t told Ronan about the ceremony.

Keeping quiet wasn’t smart, but not awful enough for him and Ronan to split. Christy would’ve been overwhelmed by having three cocks, and Dash wouldn’t have allowed Ronan to join in.

The door opened and Clint sat up straighter. He’d devoted the last two years to Ronan and needed him more than ever.

Ronan stepped into the living room. “Hi.”

“Hi.” He wanted to move, but damn it, he couldn’t shake the tension. “Sit down.”

Only Ronan could have him this off-balance.

Ronan sat opposite him and said nothing.

Clint wasn’t sure where to start. “Do you know why you weren’t included in the ceremony?” He owed Ronan a better explanation than none.

“Got right to the point, didn’t you?” Ronan sighed. He now had dark circles under his brown eyes. He looked tired. His black hair needed to be brushed and he should have run an iron over his shirt. He hadn’t shaved in at least two days, and the dusting of hairs on his cheeks and chin added to his appeal. He stole Clint’s breath.

“We need to sort this out,” Clint said. “This is the only way.” No one could ever say he wasn’t blunt.

“We do.” Ronan leaned back in his seat. “I hate fighting.” The collar of his shirt hid the silver chain he always wore — the collar Clint had given him.

“Likewise.” Clint exhaled and swept his gaze over Ronan again. He wanted to kiss his lover and prove everything was all right. He also wanted to know Ronan hadn’t removed the collar. “I hate you’re upset and hate I caused it.”

The muscle in Ronan’s jaw tightened. “I know.”

“The reason they didn’t include you and I didn’t invite you along was Christy. Think about it. Doing three guys is a lot for anyone to take. Sure, some can, and others would love it, but after what she’s been through — the shit at the club, the guys taking advantage and her worthless so-called family — I didn’t have the heart to push. Until Dash rescued her, she’d been treated like garbage. If we’d all been there, she’d have thought Dash was no different. That’s not fair.”

“So? It’s expected at the club.” Ronan folded his arms. “We’ve watched tests of the subs where they’re expected to do more than that.”

Clint knew this game. Ronan wanted to make him hurt, too. “Hold up. I’ve never passed you around, and when I collared you, it was just us,” Clint murmured.

“Everyone does the ceremony in their own fashion. You never had to prove anything to me.”

“I know.”

“Dash knew what he was doing, and he’d approved everything except the blowjob with Christy,” Clint said. “I was the witness.”

“You joined in.” Ronan’s eyes blazed.

“Because I was asked.”

“And you couldn’t have mentioned it to me? Oh, hey, my brother wants me to do his old lady because he wants to collar her. Do you mind?” Ronan growled. “I might have minded.”

“You said no chicks.” Clint leaned on his elbows. “Dash wanted you to be at the wedding. He’d planned on you being one of his attendants. It killed me to go alone.”

“Yet you flew right off to Vegas and left me here.” Ronan shook his head. “I would’ve stayed in the damn hotel room.”

“I not only invited you, but I expected you to come along. You decided you were too… I believe you said sick, to come.” Clint lowered his tone, despite his overwhelming desire to scream. Shouting never solved anything. “My brother asked for me to join in. It wasn’t a slight to you. I honored his wishes. If he’d have said he wanted me to do more than witness, I might have hesitated, and I would’ve told you.”

Ronan rubbed his forehead, then flicked his hair out of his eyes. “I know.”

Clint paused. Ronan had confused him. “Is that why you’re angry? Tell me the whole truth.”

 

More from Megan Slayer…

 

Dawg Town (Tails) multi-author set #boxset #PNR #bisexual #MCromance #bikerbooks #multiplepartners #shifters @changelingpress

Dawg Town (Tails) (Dawg Town Multi-Author 1)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Renee George
Genres/Themes: Paranormal, Shifters, Bisexual and more, Multiple Partners, Wildest West, MC Romance

 

One very special town. A whole lot of very bad — and very hot — Dawgs. Prairie Dawgs, that is…

Anne Kane — Hustle: A game of pool turns into a sexy seduction, Prairie Dawg style.

Lena Austin — Bad Dawg: One OTR trucker. One leather-clad biker. One very special town.

Marteeka Karland — Hot Dawg: Selene’s hot pink Harley is pointed straight to adventure, Dawg Town style.

Mary Winter: Chip & Dale: Usually a prairie dog colony is one male, several females. Tusa wants it the other way around.

Dawn Montgomery — Playing for Keeps: Riley holds all the cards, but Tara’s playing for keeps.

Camille Anthony — Puppy Dawg: It’ll take both hell and high water to set two stumbling lovers on the path to each other.

Tuesday Richards — Mad Dawg: Bryce’s bad started when he dodged a prairie dog and laid down his prized motorcycle… Can the day get any worse?

Carlanime Bligh — Prairie Rose: There’s a hunky new librarian in town, the moon is full, and Rose is in heat!

 

Get it Today at Changeling Press

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 The Changelings
Excerpt from Hustle (Anne Kane)

Kaylee paused and stared at the prairie dog town that spread out endlessly across the flat terrain. Hundreds of the cute little critters popped their heads out of their burrows and started to whistle the minute she’d stepped out of her sporty little Miata in the parking lot of the Prairie Dawg Saloon. The full moon tonight must be affecting the furry little things.

She ran her fingers through her hair and pushed her way through the front doors of the saloon. The subdued roar of conversation she’d heard from the far end of the parking lot stopped as every male in the place turned to stare at her.

Great. She’d come here to blow off some steam. After a hellish day at work that culminated in that bitch of a boss firing her in a very public display of jealousy, she didn’t need a whole room full of people staring at her. She glared at the two men closest, a couple of burly biker types she’d normally drool over, and they quickly looked away. She turned her head to glare at the room in general and felt a surge of satisfaction when the men shrugged and went back to whatever it was they were discussing.

Pleased with herself, she stalked over to the bar and hopped up onto a barstool. A nice cold bottle of beer would go a long way toward helping her mellow out. She spotted the bartender talking to a dark-haired man farther down the bar. He straightened up when she caught his eye and headed toward her.

“Evenin’, ma’am. Name’s Bucky.” He studied her with open curiosity. “I don’t recall seeing you around before, but you look mighty familiar.”

Kaylee rolled her eyes. That had to be the lamest pickup line in the book, and she didn’t dignify it with an answer. “Give me a cold beer. Please.”

“Comin’ right up.” He gave her a bucktoothed grin and waddled off toward the cooler.

She eyed up his plump figure, struck by his amazing resemblance to the prairie dogs that lived in a huge warren of dens and burrows outside of town. The locals occasionally grumbled about the antics of the cute little rodents, but they were fiercely protective of them. “They may be a dang nuisance,” Aunt Cee often said, “but they’re our nuisances, and nobody’s going to hurt a hair on any one of their plump little butts.”

Well, cute as the prairie dogs were, a plump butt didn’t send any shivers of excitement down her spine. She swiveled on the bar stool and surveyed the prospects. For a notorious biker hangout, the action looked tame. Sure, most of the guys sported at least some leather…

“Blake. It must’ve been Blake.”

She turned back to the bar, frowning as she accepted the frosty bottle from Bucky. “What must have been Blake?”

“Sorry, sometimes I’m a bit hard to follow.” He gave her an apologetic shrug. “Blake was a real nice guy, friend of just about everyone here. He came in one day, bragging about this girl in town, real looker. Said he was going straight, going to marry her. Got picked off by a damn eagle the very next morning.” Bucky shook his head sadly. “Never did figure out who the girl was, but it must’ve been your mama. You’re the spittin’ image of him, and the scent is unmistakable.”

Kaylee stared at the chubby bartender in alarm. She assumed an eagle would have to be a rival biker gang, but what the hell did he mean by “scent”? Surely, he didn’t think she smelled like some guy he used to know! She picked up her beer and edged away from the bar. The last thing she needed today was another person flipping out.

A movement at the back of the bar caught her eye as a dark-haired biker sauntered across the well-worn dance floor. Snug fitting jeans showed off his tight butt as he leaned over an ancient jukebox and pushed a few buttons. An old country tune filled the air, and the man straightened, turning to face her.

Kaylee sucked in a deep breath as molten heat ignited deep inside her and she felt her pussy dampen. He caught her gaze, dark eyes smoldering with passion as he sauntered over to one of the well-worn tables and picked up a long-necked bottle, taking a deep swig. Tall and lean, he wore a tight tee shirt and a worn leather vest with those jeans. No plump butt on this one. Despite the sudden feeling that she was in way over her head, Kaylee found her herself drifting in the direction of the jukebox.

 

May Day by Bryl R. Tyne #NewRelease #SecondEdition #GayRomance #multiplepartners @changelingpress @Bryl

May Day

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Marteeka Karland
Genres/Themes: Contemporary, Gay, Multiple Partners, Second editions, Silver Fox

 

His forty-ninth birthday approaching, Ed is expecting nothing more than his usual stiff drink and an anonymous fuck in the back room of Yancy’s Crossings. What he never expected was to be picked up by two college students and taken for a ride that would change his life forever.

 

Get it Today at Changeling Press

pre-order for April 26th at retailers

   

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Bryl R. Tyne

May. For me, it was the worst month of the year.

“I’m taking the rest of the week off, Sue. And no — no emergency calls.” I couldn’t help but notice the look she threw over the rim of her glasses. Of course, every tenant and his or her neighbor would be calling in for AC maintenance before Friday; today was only Wednesday… like I said, it was May. “It’s my birthday tomorrow, for Pete’s sake.”

As she slapped shut the file she was skimming, I hesitated at the door. “Cut an old man some slack, would you?”

“You ain’t old, Ed. You just need to get laid.”

A hundred needles pierced the back of my neck, and from the heat, I was sure the sudden change in color finding its way to my ears was more than noticeable. But that was Sue for you. Great boss, don’t get me wrong. She just never outgrew her tomboy years. From the warmth now filling my face, the flush was nowhere near receding. Damn my Irish complexion. With my back still toward her desk, I asked, “May I have the rest of the week off, Boss?”

Hand on the doorknob, I waited. Her silent deliberations had always irked me, but I’d paid attention enough over the years to know she needed those certain moments to think she was still in control. After all, she was my boss. If she needed something that simple to make her happy, I was more than happy to accommodate.

After clearing her throat, she voiced her decision. “I can hold down the fort until the weekend. Randy’ll take it from there, but you make sure you’re in ship-shape come Monday morning. You hear me?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said, opening the office door, after a pause to wonder just what she thought I did in my free time. Lord knows, forty-eight — make that forty-nine come tomorrow — and still eligible meant only one thing. I may as well start shopping for retirement living — with a single bed. I reached over and snagged a couple brochures from the table under the curtained window on my way out. Reading material for later, of course.

“And, Ed – Edwin…!”

Body halfway out the door, I popped my head back inside the office.

“Make sure you leave your keys at the bar.” Her wink told me either I was a fool for thinking I’d pulled the perfect ruse all these years or she was a psychic. “And happy birthday. Now, go on. Get out of here.”

 

More from Bryl R. Tyne at Changeling Press 

 

Inked by Kate Kill #PNR #NewRelease #bisexual #multiplepartners #vampires #shifters @changelingpress @katehillromance

 

Destined mates surrender to irresistible passion and fall desperately in love.

 

Inked (Inked 4)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Angela Knight
Genres/Themes: Paranormal, Box Set, Bisexual and More,
Multiple Partners, Vampires, Shifters

 

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Destined mates surrender to irresistible passion and fall desperately in love.

Rough Waters: Geoffrey meets a woman he can’t resist, but is Samantha part of a scheme to tempt him into indulging in his long-repressed bloodlust?

Cactus Juice: Stranded on a desert road, Adrian meets a sexy biker who offers him a ride — in more ways than one.

Mountain Men: Jay thought their situation couldn’t get any more complicated until Lydia arrives. She must find a way to bring about peace, or see both Kaelen and Jay destroyed!

Climax: A warlock’s evil spell sent Angela down a path of destruction. The only man who can save her is the one she considers her worst enemy — Damon Tinta.

 

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Kate Hill
Excerpt from Rough Waters

The man performing pull-ups caught Samantha’s eye not only because he had a body like a heavyweight boxer, but because tattoos covered him from the top of his shaved head to the waist of his black workout pants. The artwork probably extended to his lower body too.

At the gym she normally didn’t gawk at other people but focused on her workout, yet this guy commanded attention. On her way to the free weights, she passed him and stared at the broad expanse of his sweat-slicked back. Her gaze focused on the tattoo of a ship at sea. His rippling muscles gave the illusion of waves rippling around the vessel.

Samantha paused, unable to look away from the waves moving up and down.

Up and down.

Up and…

The spray of salt water on her face roused Samantha from her stupor. Her heart pounding, she glanced around. Instead of the familiar sight of weights, treadmills and other gym equipment around her, she saw people — most in evening wear — mingling on the deck of a yacht.

Glancing down, she nearly gave a scream of shock to find her workout clothes had been replaced by a low-cut, sleeveless silver gown and matching strappy sandals.

“Are you all right?” asked a slightly raspy but sexy male voice. A hand gently touched her lower back.

“No, I don’t know what happened,” she said, turning and staring into the most beautiful blue eyes she’d ever seen. They gazed at her with concern and underlying strength. He had a chiseled yet masculine face topped with reddish blond hair cropped close to his head. A strange feeling swept her, but she blamed it on the sudden disappearance of the gym.

“What do you mean?” he asked. This time Samantha detected a slight English accent. Tall and lean, he wore snug jeans, and the sleeves of his tan shirt were rolled up, exposing his powerful forearms. The shirt was open almost to his navel, and she tried not to get distracted by the sight of his sculpted chest.

“I don’t know how I got here. I was at the gym and… I have no idea where I am.” Panic almost overtook her, but the man slid an arm around her and guided her away from the ship’s rail.

She probably should have pulled away, but at the moment she needed someone to take control. Truly she had never felt so confused and scared in her life.

“Did you have a lot to drink?” he asked.

“I don’t drink.”

“Are you here with someone or did John invite you?”

“John?”

“He owns the yacht.”

“I don’t know any John with a yacht,” Samantha said and allowed him to lead her below deck to a room decorated in red and black. People mingled, drinking, dancing and talking. A bar stood at the far corner of the room and to her right people lingered around a buffet table.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Samantha. And you?”

“Geoffrey.” He guided her onto a chair and stooped in front of her, gently tilting her head from one side to the other, his blue gaze fixed on her neck.

At that moment she collected herself — or started to.

“What are you doing?” she asked. “Where am I exactly?”

“We’re somewhere off the coast of Hawaii. You don’t remember anything?”

“Yeah. I told you, I was at the gym and –“

“There’s a doctor aboard. I’ll get him. Don’t move.”

He stood and walked away. Despite being dumbfounded, she noticed the curve of his tight ass in the jeans.

What was wrong with her? She had absolutely no recollection of arriving on this ship, of being invited, or of meeting anyone named John.

Moments later, Geoffrey returned with a shorter, dark-haired man dressed in black whom he introduced as Dr. Wayne Butler. He asked her a series of questions, such as her address and the date, which Samantha answered without difficulty.

“I’m not crazy,” she said, then her brow furrowed. Or was she? After all, she was here on this yacht but had no idea how she had arrived.

A third man approached, this one tall and pale with steel gray eyes. He wore a black suit and charcoal tie. His short black hair was perfectly styled, despite the cool ocean breeze.

“John, what can you tell us about Samantha?” asked the doctor.

Geoffrey stared hard at their host, whose handsome brow furrowed. He shook his head and said, “I’m sorry. I don’t believe we’ve met.”

“No. We haven’t,” Samantha said. She’d have remembered him. He had eyes like the villain in a suspense flick.

“She doesn’t remember how she got here,” Dr. Butler said. “I suggest letting her rest for a while and turning back to shore. She should be checked out at a hospital.”

John smiled. “Of course. Samantha, do you need help back to your room?”

“I don’t have a room,” she said.

“Don’t worry. We’ll find you one.” John offered her his arm.

“I’ll take her,” Geoffrey interrupted.

He and John locked gazes, and Samantha had the awful feeling they would come to blows then and there.

The Triad’s Pet by Marteeka Karland #DarkFantasy #scifi #bisexual #NewRelease @changelingpress @marteekakarland

The Triad has taken Arryn to be their pet, but Arryn has other ideas in mind.

The Triad's Pet (The Outcasts 2)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Marteeka Karland
Genres/Themes: Dark Fantasy, scifi, Bisexual, multiple partners

A feisty outcast

Arryn’s life has always been awkward. The daughter of a traitor and his pet, the only reason she is allowed to continue to live in the village is because of her exceptional talents in both healing and engineering. Even still, she knows how to pick her battles and lives a contented life.

A triad pledged to another

Being taken as a pet is one thing, but to be taken by a trio of men who have pledged to be the promised of another woman is intolerable. Perhaps the impression Arryn made when she saved Storm’s life was a strong one, but she certainly didn’t sign up to be a pet. Dealing with her budding feelings for the three warriors is hard enough, but knowing she can never have them is enough to break her heart. Not that she’d ever let it show.

A village under siege

When danger is deliberately brought into their midst, it’s up to Arryn to direct her men. But how can a pet convince three stubborn warriors to trust in her unique abilities?

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Five pet peeves from Arryn…

  1. Arrogant assholes
  2. Ignorant assholes
  3. Bossy assholes
  4. Assholes who think she’s less because she’s a woman
  5. ANYONE making her a pet

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Marteeka Karland

The battle in the distance had everyone in the village on edge. Not a single person here didn’t have someone in that fight. Even our kings, the Triad, were in this one because we all knew it was a fight for the city. A fight to the death.

“Arryn! You’re needed at the wall! The mechanism on the main catapult is frozen!” That was my best friend, Lassa. She was the fastest runner in the village and, at times like these, she was needed everywhere.

I wanted to protest — organizing medical supplies and a place to bring the wounded was necessary, too. But Lassa was already off to carry the next message. Besides, Lorgan, our village healer and head of the Council of Elders, had made it clear he didn’t want my input. He needed it, though. When the wounded started coming in, assuming we weren’t overrun and invaded by the opposing tribes, he was going to have a mess on his hands.

Oh, well. Not my fight.

Yet.

As I hurried off to the wall, I noticed the shift in the breeze. Now it came from the sea rather than inland. Never a good sign. Off in the distance, a black cloud loomed menacingly and lightning flashed, filling me with dread.

As if the fates had heard my fear and misgivings, I heard soldiers gathering near the city gates. In the midst of them was one of our Triad. The other two were already on the battlefield. One always stayed back to see to the city defenses. If the last king was readying to enter the fray on the battlefield, things were bad indeed.

I watched as the tall man on a tall horse directed soldiers with every expectation he would be obeyed without question. His hair was black as night, his skin bronzed and glinting with sweat. Plate armor encased a powerful chest, leather his arms and legs. The powerful steed he rode had guards for the king’s legs built onto the saddle that acted as additional armor. Though I’d lived here most of my life, I did my best to stay away from anything to do with the ruling factions. I knew who the kings were, the Triad, but I wasn’t sure which was which. I thought this one was Asher. They were important people and, because of my shady background, I tended to avoid them.

His sharp gaze scanned the ranks at the wall, calling several soldiers to his side and snapping orders. He’d readied a contingent of cavalrymen to go into battle. Then he looked up… directly at me. Clear blue eyes caught my gaze. Held me captive as easily as if he’d wrapped those brawny arms tightly around me, as if he’d been completely aware of me and where I was no matter what was going on around him.

The hard planes of his face were starkly beautiful, with masculine lines that seemed to have been designed to take a woman’s breath. If I’d actually been the type of woman affected by men like him, my heart would be beating faster, my breath catching in my throat. Instead, I’m sure I was just out of breath, my heart pounding from hurrying through the village. Had to be.

Then he nodded once in my direction, actually acknowledging me, before swinging his mount around and charging onto the battlefield with his men.

“Get over here, girl!” one of the guards snapped, completely shattering the spell King Asher had woven around me. The soldiers were usually courteous, but urgency stripped everyone of niceties. I understood and respected that, not taking offense in the least. “The pin won’t release the break!”

As I approached at a run, I could see the problem. “The spring’s melted!” I shouted to him over the din of soldiers. “Get the payload off and I’ll replace the spring!”

Easier said than done. The payload was a cauldron of flaming oil. Even as I told him what to do, I realized that wouldn’t be possible. “Never mind,” I muttered, snagging an iron bar next to the hulking catapult. All I had to do was release the break. Which was controlled by the spring. The heat from the payloads they’d been firing had melted the spring. That didn’t happen with proper maintenance and care in loading the payload. Either someone got in too big a hurry, or no one had maintained the equipment. During the heat of battle, that was understandable.

I swung the iron bar with all my might. It took three tries before another guard snagged it from me and gave one mighty swing, snapping the spring free. When it finally broke free, the brake handle flipped up, the recoil knocking me on my ass into the mud when I jumped out of the way, but the arm swung, sending the flaming projectile hurling through the air. I didn’t notice where it went because I’d had to scramble to my feet and was frantically trying to free the broken bits of the release lever to get at the spring and break.

The soldier in charge of this engine was hurrying to bring me the parts he knew I’d need. Tools were already scattered around where men had been attempting to solve the problem.

I worked as swiftly as I could, repairing what I’d broken as well as replacing the vital spring that allowed the weapon to launch. I have no idea how long it took — seemed like forever — but finally, I was able to give the go ahead. “Test the fucker!” I shouted.

Soldiers cranked the wheel, creating tension. The sling was empty, but we couldn’t risk loading it before it was tested in case I’d fucked up.

“Release!” the guard snapped. The arm let go and swung upward in a smooth motion. Without another word, the soldiers began cranking the wheel again, readying the catapult for its payload.

They loaded another cauldron, filled it with oil, then set it ablaze. The guard gave the command to release it and, again, the weapon functioned exactly as it was supposed to. He turned to look at me. Nodded once, then turned his attention back to his duty.

I was the one everyone went to when things broke. The only problem was, I was a nobody. The bastard daughter of a traitor and a pet not his own, most thought me incapable of anything good.

My mother had been a nomad. Captured and sold as a pet, she’d run off with my father, having his child shortly before they’d landed in our village. Years later, my father, having worked his way up as a tradesman, betrayed the Triad by showing an enemy scout how to navigate the maze leading from the village to the Triad compound. He’d been jailed for a trial that had taken months when most times justice was swift and sure. In the meantime, the Council of Elders had given my mother to Lorgan, the head of the Council, in anticipation of my father’s execution. Things had gone horribly wrong after that. It was said that my mother “forced” Lorgan into what was considered “deviant behavior.” Lorgan had convinced the council to sentence my mother to death. At least, that was the official account. I had no idea what had happened immediately following that horrible incident, but my father, having been found guilty of the charges against him, had been exiled instead of executed.

That left me on my own at eleven years old, so I learned to fend for myself. By the time I was sixteen, I could fix anything. Which is how I’d come to design reinforcements for the city wall four years later. But, I mean, what could anyone expect? Their plan was piss poor and mine wasn’t.

While I was at the catapults, I hurried to inspect the area where the wall crossed the river. If there was a weakness in the defenses, it was here. Instead of building with the river on the outside, the elders had wanted it inside, so there was a ready supply of fresh water, which meant the iron gate was the only thing preventing invaders from breaching the city walls. It was fortified with guard towers and all kinds of weapons, but from the looks of things, every man not needed to operate crossbows and catapults was outside on the battlefield. There were a few soldiers on the battlements, but they were mostly boys in their teens. All of them looked terrified. This was why I’d insisted on making sure the design of the wall over the river was strong. I knew the Elders would demand all the defensive strength be focused on the main part of the city. Had the builders followed the original plan designed by some fuck dumber than dirt, we’d have been screwed the second the enemy engaged that section of the wall.

Looking through the grate to the battlefield beyond, it seemed like the fight was still far off. If they broke the lines, however, any enemy who’d studied the layout of the village would know the river was the weakest point and would charge it with everything they had.

I picked up a rock and threw it at one of the boys on the wall. Missed. Tried again. Didn’t make it to the wall that time. Fuck. I was definitely not warrior material. “Hey!” I yelled, waving my arms over my head. “Hey, hey!” One of the boys turned around. Cristiano, his name was.

“Arryn? What are you doing over here! The catapult’s messed up! They need you at the gate!”

“I fixed it, Cris. How is it looking from your end? Can you hold them if they break the line?”

The young man looked around, fear on his face. “I don’t know, Arryn. We’ve got weapons ready, but if it comes down to it…” He shook his head. “All I know is, I’m scared now and we’re not even in the fight.”

“Hold them together, Cris,” I said, scanning the inner wall for anyone I thought might be able to help. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“I’d sure love to have Granda here about now,” the younger man commented. “He isn’t very strong in a fight, but he’s a fierce leader.”

Which was a great idea. We needed something more at the river than the iron grate, but in this situation the men on the wall needed an experienced leader worse. “Drop the reinforcements!” I called to Cris. “It’s the best stationary defense you’ve got for the river.”

“We’re not supposed to do that except when it’s imminent we’re going to be charged,” he called back.

“Do you think your men can get the heavy son of a bitch in place if the enemy breaks the lines? Because you’ll need to be firing at them with everything you’ve got.”

“I’m on it,” he said, as I knew he would.

With one last look at the wall, I sprinted off to the main gate. The largest contingent of guards and soldiers was there. If there was a plan in place to defend the riverside, someone there would know.

“Where have you been, Arryn?”

That angry voice belonged to Lorgan. Head of the Council of Elders and all-around dumbfuck, Lorgan was all about making himself look good. He never wanted me anywhere around unless he was about to fuck something up. Or needed someone to clean up something he’d already fucked up.

Much as I wanted to make sure he wasn’t actually killing anyone with his horrible techniques, if the river wall wasn’t as fortified as it could be, the entire village could be in jeopardy. “Not now, Lorgan,” I said as I sprinted by. He sputtered and swore at me but didn’t bother to give chase. Which was my test as to if he was actually about to kill someone with ignorance. If Lorgan was in real trouble, he wouldn’t let up. I’d have to deal with him later, but right now, I had more pressing concerns.

“Who’s in charge?” I’d reached the main gate, out of breath and panting. Sweat dripped from my forehead into my eyes. My thin, sleeveless dress clung to my damp skin and my wine-red hair stuck to my face and neck uncomfortably. The soldiers were in full leather armor. As hot and miserable as I was, they had to be even worse.

“Arryn!” That was Hadin. Third in command of the city watch and training to be a captain in the Triad’s guard, he took his job very seriously. One of the reasons he’d make a good leader.

“The defense at the river. Those boys are good and throwing their heart into it, but really need a strong leader.”

“Cristiano is on it. He’ll be fine.”

“Just one experienced soldier, Hadin. Please. Just one.”

Hadin glanced in my direction before turning back to the group of men who’d begun to gather around him. Hadin was one of the few of the villagers in a position of power who actually took me seriously. “I don’t have one, Arryn. They’ll be fine. It’s not likely the Blackheart soldiers will break the line in any event. Especially if we keep pounding them with fire bombs.”

“Cris is asking for help. He’s a good guard but knows he’s in over his head.”

“No doubt because you asked him if he was overwhelmed,” Hadin snapped. “The city is under attack. We all have a job to do. Including you, Arryn. I suggest you get to yours and leave me to mine!” The man normally wasn’t so snippy, but I understood and would never hold it against him.

I also knew better than to argue. I’d expressed my opinion and Cristiano’s fears. That was all I could do. At least, it was all I could do here. My philosophy? Why waste time arguing that could better be spent doing something about the problem?

Whirling, I ran to the inner wall. Our city was formed in a circle. The Council of Elders and their families lived in the center, which was walled off. The theory was, if the city were ever under attack, women and children from all over the village would gather inside the inner wall and be protected from invaders. At least that was the argument the elders had put forth to have it built in the first place.

It was also a last line of defense for everyone. In reality, the elders generally locked themselves in, hunkered down, and expected everyone to protect them and their families. For the most part, any women and children who were not helping the soldiers and healers huddled just outside the inner walls in hopes that, if the outer wall was breached, those behind the inner wall would let them in.

I knew better.

At the festival square, the entrance to the inner wall, I found Cristiano’s granda, Malachi. Though the older man was completely white headed and missing a leg below his knee, with his tall, muscular frame, he was still a commanding presence.

“Take the little ones to the underground shelter,” he said, his voice booming. The shelter was supposed to be used for food storage, but I could see some of the items not heat sensitive were stacked outside the shelter entrance next to the wall. “Any woman who wants to go with them would be most welcomed and appreciated. My Tessa can only control so many of the little varmints.”

He sounded put out, but I knew Malachi wanted every single woman and child in that shelter and would use any means necessary to convince them, even making it seem like Tessa was too frail to care for the children on her own. Not that Tessa needed the help. She was a force of nature.

“Cris needs you, Malachi,” I said without preamble. “At the river wall.”

Instantly, the old man’s gaze seemed to burn through me. “Are they under siege?”

“No, but they need a steady hand to guide them.” Malachi met my gaze with a level one of his own. “They’re scared. If they come under attack and panic…”

“You make sure everyone who needs to be there gets into the shelter,” he said. “Tessa can handle it once they’re all inside, but some of them will try to stay outside to help their men.”

“Do you need help getting to the wall?”

He gave me a look that said, If you ask me that one more time

“Never mind. Stupid question.”

He grunted in satisfaction and snagged his crutches. The man really shouldn’t have been able to move around as easily as he did, but he could move as quickly as a man half his age with both legs. Of all the people in the village, I admired Malachi and Tessa the most. Not only were they intelligent and hardworking, but they were fierce in their protection of those they considered family. The gods knew they’d been there for me when I needed them desperately.

Tessa ushered women and children inside the shelter. She looked frail and damned near helpless, but I knew better. So did everyone else, but it still worked. No one she ushered inside refused her.

“You should stay with me,” Tessa said decisively. “We could use your calming influence with the children.”

I blinked. “Tessa?”

“I mean,” she plucked at her apron, “I want you to be in here with us. Where it’s safe.”

“You know I can’t,” I said gently. “Is something wrong? Is there something you need you’re not telling me?”

The older woman sighed, dabbing at her eyes with her apron. “I’m just getting emotional in my old age.” She gave me a watery smile. “I have seven children and twenty-four grandchildren. None of them pull at my heart the way you do, child. I love them all, but I worry over you when I shouldn’t.”

“I’ll be fine, Granma,” I said, giving her the title all her grandchildren used. “You know I’m needed in the city.”

She pursed her lips. “Just don’t you let that Lorgan push you around. Someone needs to pull that man down a peg or two.”

I grinned. “I’m sure you’re the very one to do it, Granma.” I kissed her on the cheek. “I love you, Tessa. Take care of the young ones.”

“I love you, too, Arryn. Take care of yourself.”

I had just given Tessa a hug and closed the door to the underground shelter when I spotted Lassa running toward me. In the distance, it seemed like the sounds of battle were growing louder. As if an army were approaching the city.

Impossible!

“Release!” Haden’s shout penetrated through the din of battle closing in around us. Several flaming cauldrons were launched from the eight catapults along the walls. The big crossbows on the top of the walls were loaded with flaming arrows, which also released. A barrage of flaming arrows from archers behind the walls were shot as well. Which meant the city’s soldiers were close to the wall, likely in retreat.

Never had the Triad been bested in a direct battle for the city. My heart pounded. Just as I was about to head to the river to make sure the water grate was as fortified as it could be, I saw a group of riders enter the city at a gallop, heading for the healer’s tent. The doors were closed once more, indicating they were standing their ground outside.

“Protect the Triad!” a voice called. Which was odd. I’d never heard of the Triad putting their protection over any of the men they led. The trio always led the regiments into battle. One at the front, one with the cavalry, and one with the siege engines…

How could I be so stupid! King Asher had left the wall. None of the Triad had replaced him with Hadin. Which meant one of the Triad had fallen. That was what Lorgan had been fussing about. The king must not have been at the healer’s tent yet when Lorgan called for me. A runner would have been sent ahead to give notice for the healer to prepare; otherwise, had Lorgan needed my help with this particular problem, he’d have run me down immediately. He’d likely thought he could handle it on his own but wanted backup. The man they’d just taken into the healer’s tent was one of our kings.

Fuck.

MORE BOOKS BY MARTEEKA KARLAND

Erotic romance author by night, emergency room tech/clerk by day, Marteeka Karland works really hard to drive everyone in her life completely and totally nuts. She has been creating stories from her warped imagination since she was in the third grade. Her love of writing blossomed throughout her teenage years until it developed into the totally unorthodox and irreverent style her English teachers tried so hard to rid her of.

Emelia’s Soldiers by Isabella Jordan #AdventureRomance #scifi #bisexual #multiplepartners #NewRelease @changelingpress @isyjordanauthor

Two gorgeous soldiers want to save Emelia from the web
they’re caught in. But can they let her go?

 

Emelia's Soldiers (Ghost Unit 1)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Angela Knight
Genres/Themes: Action Adventure, Scifi, Bisexual,
Multiple Partners, Men and Women in Uniform

 

Tired of being taken for granted, Emelia Drake decides to confront her latest loser boyfriend. Instead of the satisfaction she hoped for, she finds herself caught in an elaborate and dangerous web.

Nick Cormac and Chase Turner seek to protect an innocent woman from the web of darkness that’s shattered their lives. The survivors of dark experiments and torture at the hands of a mercenary who wanted to create a legion of superior soldiers, Nick and Chase are part of an elite, highly-skilled group intending to stop the mercenary once and for all.

They know Emelia is too good for them and their world, but that doesn’t change the fact that they want her. Will they be able to keep her safe? How can they ever let her go?

button_get-it-today (1)

 

Nick, Chase, and Emelia: What are your favorite movies?

Nick: I enjoy a good comedy. The Deadpool movies are pretty good. I like Zombieland – and that’s got a sequel coming out this year, right? Zombie movies are fun.

Emelia: (Laughs) You never watch anything with zombies. You liked Zombieland. That’s it. You bitch every time Chase or I want to watch The Walking Dead.

Nick: The Walking Dead is depressing, and I haven’t been into that show since that old farmer guy died.

Chase: I still watch it but yeah, I’ll give you that. Hershel’s loss was one we never got over.

Nick: But for me? Comedies. The Big Lebowski. Bridesmaids. The Hangover movies.

Chase: Real intellectual stuff. (laughs with Emelia)

Nick: (Mouths) Fuck you.

Chase: I like a good spy or espionage flick now and again. I like the James Bond movies, even the old ones when you catch them on.

Nick: Two words. Reality television.

Emelia nods.

Chase: (Blows out an exhale) Yeah, right. I watch Dateline when I can’t sleep at night. What else is on?

Emelia: We have Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu… so like a million other things honestly.

Chase: (play shoves Emelia) I like Game of Thrones, but it feels like it hasn’t been on for like ten years.

Emelia: Me too!

Nick: It’s okay. It’s a lot to keep up with.

Chase: You think? For two years, you thought Tywin Lannister and Stannis Baratheon were the same dude.

Nick: Who?

Chase: (laughs with Emelia) For me, anything but historical movies or chick flicks. Those are her arena.

Emelia: (rolls her eyes) I watch things besides chick flicks.

Nick: Like?

Emelia: I loved Creed 2. And the first one.

Chase: Because you think that Creed guy is cute.

Emelia: Michael B. Jordan is beautiful.

Nick: Mm-hm. (Chase shakes his head)

Emelia: Game of Thrones hardly qualifies as a chick flick.

Chase: You like the guy who got his hand chopped off.

Emelia: Jaime Lannister is beautiful. (Shakes her head at her two guys grumbling) I also like the Great British Baking Show, Stranger Things. Oh, and I like True Detective.

Nick: Do you even know what that is?

Emelia: Yeah, I mean, I’ve just finished the first season with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. That was really good.

Nick: The second season was good too.

Chase: They did more?

Emelia: There’s a third season too.

Nick: We should watch it. I’ll re-watch what I’ve seen.

Chase: Sounds good to me.

Emelia: Sounds like a date. Wait, weren’t we supposed to be talking about movies though?

Nick: You mentioned Creed. We’re good.

Chase: Wanna watch True Detective later?

 

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Isabella Jordan

Emelia Drake’s heart dropped as she spotted Scott’s car parked at a seedy-looking bar on the outskirts of the city. Amy, her coworker who lived nearby, had mentioned seeing Scott’s very distinctive Camaro at the bar several times lately. Emelia wouldn’t have been curious except that over the last several days, she hadn’t had a lot of luck reaching him. Once he explained his phone’s battery had died. Another time he was out of range, working with some new client.

It had been a month now and she’d barely seen him. Emelia tried hard to give him the benefit of the doubt, she really did. Scott was an architect, and a good one. It was one of the reasons she liked having him as a boyfriend, shallow as it was to admit. But who was she kidding? Scott had cheated on her before. A couple of times. And the chants of “if he does it once” from well meaning friends were really starting to get old.

So, Emelia had gotten home from work, downed a couple of small glasses of bourbon for courage, and decided to go for a ride. In her gut, she knew she’d find him. She always did.

This time, though. This time she wouldn’t sit out in the parking lot staring at his car in tears. She had no intention of driving away in shame and waiting until he got tired of the other woman and came back to her. No. Not this time.

Climbing out of the car, Emelia braced herself. She was going to look so out of place in there. Here she was in her pencil skirt and blouse, kitten heels and her hair up in a neat twist. Why hadn’t her dumb ass changed clothes?

But she just had to do this. She had to face him down. Just once.

Because this was over.

Yanking open the door, she walked into a classic smoky barroom, filled with rougher people than she normally kept company with. Emelia mentally shook her head. What was Scott doing here? It usually pained him to converse with anyone making less than a hundred grand a year and he was here?

Some old rock tune with a heavy bass blared above the din of conversation around her. She tried to see if she could spot him there. She was half-praying that she wouldn’t, that it was an incredible coincidence, that someone had a Camaro just like his. She could go home, crawl into her bed, and just hide  there for a day or two.

When her heel caught on a rough board, Emelia almost went flying, but strong hands steadied her as she regained her balance. Turning, she glanced up at her rescuer and just stared. Steel blue eyes met hers set in a truly handsome face, all strong-jaw and nice lines with a scruffy beard and thick, wavy dark hair that just touched his shoulders.

Damn. Why had she never come here before?

“Thank you,” she told him, truly grateful that he saved her from making a spectacle of her self earlier than she intended.

“You okay?” he asked, his gaze raking her over.

Emelia nodded, looking him over, too. He was all muscles covered in denim and leather and…

She needed to focus. Find Scott. You’re not here for the hot biker dude.

“Yeah, thank you,” she told him with a smile. She left him there, watching as he took a seat across from a blond who was even bigger than he was and just as gorgeous. The blond’s eyes lit up with amusement. When he caught her gaze, he winked at her.

Jesus.

When she reached the very back of the bar, she spotted Scott in a booth, wearing a leather jacket she’d never seen before, with a T-shirt and jeans. That was new. Snuggled up against his side was a very attractive woman with a head full of flame-red ringlets, big green eyes, and ruby-painted lips. She laughed at something Scott said, and he answered by pressing a kiss just under her ear, nuzzling under her hair.

Emelia’s heart sank. Well, okay then.

Across from them sat a huge guy with a military haircut and his back to her, so she couldn’t get a good look at him. Now what are you going to do, genius?

It had been a mistake to walk in. Especially when she knew what she’d find. Just as she knew she’d let him come crawling back to her when he was done with the Julia Roberts wannabe.

And it was at that moment Scott spotted her.

His dark eyes widened. Shocked, he abruptly jumped up from the seat, throwing the redhead off in a way Emelia would have found comical if circumstances were different. “Emelia, what are you doing here?” Scott asked in a not-so-steady voice. His eyes were glassy and red, and he wasn’t entirely stable on his feet. He’d been drinking. A lot.

Emelia smiled, wanting to come across as sassy and empowered but not quite hitting that note. “I saw your car outside.” She jerked her thumb in the direction of the bar’s entrance. “I thought I’d stop by and say hi.”

“Is this your girlfriend?” The redhead was beaming at her from the seat, her chin propped in one hand. “She’s so… sweet. Don’t you think she’s sweet, Alex?”

The military guy glanced over his shoulder at her, his dark gaze roaming over her in a way that made her cringe. Then he smirked at her. “Yeah.”

Scott’s gaze shifted from Alex to Emelia and back again. Licking his lips, he returned his attention to her. He looked nervous. Somehow, she didn’t think it was because he’d been caught by his girlfriend snuggling up to a redhead.

“I’m going to be out for a while tonight,” Scott told Emelia. “Why don’t you go on home and I’ll call you tomorrow? Yeah?”

Something was wrong. Usually when she confronted Scott about any of his little side bitches, he’d be furious. That has been part of the reason confronting him in a public place had seemed like a good idea. As pissy mad as he usually got, in public he wouldn’t be able to throw things at her or swing at her as he normally did. Not without risking someone would get the police involved.

Now Scott just seemed… worried. What had he gotten himself into?

Emelia nodded, uneasy. “I’m going to take off. Don’t worry about calling me,” she said in a shaky voice. “I’m good.”

The line was meant to mark her exit. Just as she turned around, a hand caught her elbow. She looked up in fear as Alex rose from his side of the booth, his grip on her firm. He was a big guy, towering over her. The smirk he wore just made it worse. “So, does that mean you’re available now, sweet thing?” Alex drawled, his grip tightening around her bicep.

Emelia yanked on her arm to pull free. His fingers flexed. Now it hurt. “Let me go, please.” Emelia forced herself to meet his gaze. “Please?”

“Hey, man,” Scott jumped in at that point. “Hey, she’s—”

Alex held up his other hand to cut him off. “I’m just going to walk her out to her car. It’s a rough neighborhood. I just want to make sure she’s taken care of.”

The redhead’s grin widened, and Emelia’s stomach dropped. “I’ll be fine,” Emelia told him as forcefully as she could manage.

Alex lowered his face, his dark, mean eyes glaring into hers. “I insist.” Alex walked around her and then proceeded to pretty much drag her away from the booth. A quick look back showed Scott just watching, with his mouth hanging open.

Emelia struggled, trying to pull free. When the front entrance came into sight, she decided she’d just start screaming. No way she was going to let the man drag her out of the bar and do who-knew-what with her.

Abruptly, the man came to a halt in front of her, causing her to run into his back. Something had surprised him enough to loosen his grip and Emelia yanked back the moment she felt it, pulling free of him. As she made it around him, she realized it was the blond man who’d been sitting with her rescuer who’d stopped them. And while Alex whoever-he-was was a big guy, he had nothing on the blond blocking his exit. The hot guy with long, dark hair stepped in front of her, shielding her from Alex.

“You’re in our way,” Alex growled at the taller man.

The man had sky-blue eyes, a strong jaw, and blond hair cut short. His shoulders were as wide as church doors and his muscles had muscles under a heavy, worn leather coat, shirt and jeans. He cut an intimidating figure as his glare locked with that of the guy who’d been trying to drag her out of the bar.

“I’m not blocking your way,” the blond corrected him, tipping his head in Emelia’s direction.

She felt much safer tucked behind the broad back of the dark-haired man. Her palms were pressed to his back and he felt muscly, too. Damn.

“She’s with me,” Alex told him, his voice low.

“You with him, sweetheart?” the blond asked her.

Emelia shook her head. “No, I’m not.”

“Guess that means she’s with us,” the brunet said, grinning over his shoulder at her. “You with us?”

Emelia didn’t know these two anymore than she did Alex, but the vibes she got from them felt much safer. She was willing to chance it. “Yes,” Emelia said loud enough for Alex to hear.

Alex’s glare had her heart lurching in her chest. After a meaningful moment, that intense gaze shifted back to the blond. “My mistake,” he said, his lips pressed into a thin line. When he headed back in the direction of Scott’s table, she released the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.

The two men waited until he was out of earshot before herding her back to the booth where they’d been sitting. The dark-haired man seated her between himself and the wall.

“How you fellas doing?” A tall waitress with curly hair smiled at them as she stopped at their booth.

“A couple more,” the blond motioned to the mostly empty glasses on the table before them. “What about you, sweetheart?”

Drinking was the last thing she should be contemplating but she was going to need to calm down, to get her mind around what just happened. “A Whiskey Sour, please.”

The waitress nodded. “Be right back.”

“You okay?” the blond asked, the concern in those bright blue eyes seeming genuine.

Emelia nodded. “I will be. I think.”

“What are you doing here?” the brunet asked meaningfully.

She blew out a sharp breath. “Confronting a cheating boyfriend?”

The two of them exchanged a look. “That was your boyfriend?” The brunet jerked his thumb in the direction of Scott’s table.

Emelia shook her head. “I don’t know the big guy. Scott’s my boyfriend. Was my boyfriend. He’s the one back there all over the redhead.”

“Do you know the woman?” the blond wanted to know.

Emelia shook her head again.

“Well, sorry about that,” the brunet said slowly. “But you might have bigger problems now.”

“Why?” Then she stopped, remembered how uneasy Scott had seemed at her arrival. “He’s gotten into something he shouldn’t have, huh?”

Again, the two men exchanged a look.

“You can tell me.” Her relationship was definitely over now. Whatever was going on between him and redhead and Alex? She wanted no part of that.

“Yeah, he’s gotten himself into something he shouldn’t have,” the brunet went on. “Problem is, they’ve seen you now.”

“So?” Emelia thanked the waitress who came back with the round of drinks. “I don’t have anything to do with it.”

The blond held up a hand to halt their conversation until the waitress left.

“You do if they think they can use you against him,” the blond explained.

“Excuse me?” Emelia stared at him as she worked on her drink, enjoying the way it burned into her stomach. “I don’t think they missed the part where I showed up and found him cuddled up to another woman. I told him not to call me. It’s over. Done. Whatever is going on there doesn’t involve me.”

“It does if they think they can use you to motivate him to do something they want,” the brunet continued. “Do you know anything about them? Why he’s with them?”

“Are you undercover cops or something?” Emelia wanted to know, fear creeping into her head. “Why all the questions?”

“We’re the ones who are going to get your ass safely out of here, so don’t worry about it,” the blond snapped. “Do you know anything about them?”

The impatient tone got her attention. “No, I don’t.” Emelia forced herself to meet his gaze. “Scott’s an architect. He’d been telling me that he was putting in a lot of hours with a new client, a woman. He’s designing some sort of special building for her. That’s what he told me. I really haven’t heard anything from him for weeks, so I found him here and decided to confront him. Guess it wasn’t my best idea.”

“You’re in the wrong place at the wrong time,” the brunet told her. “I’ll give you that. What’s your name?”

She looked from him to the blond and back, ultimately deciding that it was in her best interest to be nice. “Emelia,” she told him. “Who are you?”

“He’s Nick,” the brunet offered. “I’m Chase.”

Emelia worked on downing her drink, trying to calm the riot of thoughts in her head. She’d shown up to confront her loser boyfriend. His cheating ways had apparently led him to get involved with some people he should have avoided. What happened now? All she really wanted to do now was go home, call in sick for the rest of the week and feel sorry for herself with more bourbon and ice cream.

Something told her she wasn’t going to get her wish.

“Thank you,” she said after a moment. “Whatever’s going on, you didn’t have to keep him from dragging me out of here, but you did.”

Something like admiration lit Nick’s eyes and he nodded.

The brunet, Chase, sat back on the booth seat, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. Emelia stiffened but she didn’t protest. “Can I go home now?” Emelia hated the pitiful note in her own voice.

“Do you live close by?” Nick asked, scrubbing a hand over his jaw.

Emelia shrugged. “I’m about three miles away. I’ll be okay to drive.”

Nick shook his head. “I’m sure you are, but if he decides to look for you, it won’t take him long at all to find you.”

Emelia’s heart ached in her chest. “Why would he? Apparently, I don’t matter to Scott.” Oh, that hurt to admit. And come find her? How insane was what they were telling her? They couldn’t be right, could they?

Chase’s gaze locked with hers. “Doesn’t matter to them. And Alex seems like the type of guy who’d make the most of his mistake.”

Emelia didn’t mistake his meaning. What if he did come looking for her? What could she do? Both men watched her reaction while her mind reeled.

“Hey,” Nick got her attention, pulled her out of her mind. “Sorry. Not trying to scare the shit out of you. Just trying to be realistic. I’m sorry you stumbled into this, but you did.”

Whatever it was, it was real. She’d felt so uncomfortable at Scott’s table when she’d gone back there to face him. Something had been off about the entire situation. What if they were right? What if she was in danger?

“We’ll keep you safe,” Nick told her…

 

MORE BOOKS BY ISABELLA JORDAN

 

Isabella Jordan is the alter ego of an otherwise stressed out web designer, programmer, and internet junkie. When she’s not trying to perfect her own personal caffeine IV drip, she enjoys spending time with her family, doing volunteer work, and writing. She loves creating new stories of all kinds and chatting with readers and friends.